Macquarie University
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An interdisciplinary analysis of the effect of an assertive intervention on situational writing apprehension in practitioners of professional writing

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posted on 2022-03-28, 21:02 authored by Britt Larsson
The aims of this project were to identify the causes of situational writing apprehension (Daly & Hailey, 1984) in the sample, to test the effectiveness of an assertive intervention in addressing them, and to analyze these causal factors and intervention effects in terms of the discourse communities represented in the research site. Situational writing apprehension (SWA) refers to situationally-induced anxiety which affects individuals' writing processes and the texts which they produce. The problem was formulated as one polarity of the writing apprehension construct (Daly & Miller, 1975) and originally researched in the discipline of psychology. However because of the diversity and discursive complexity of writing sites, SWA has not attracted subsequent research interest. The study addresses this research gap through an interdisciplinary approach (Watson & Gallois, 2002; Wetherell, 1996) which encompasses social psychological approaches and the more sociological/ anthropological and social interactional approaches to professional discourse analysis. The project consists of two intervention studies carried out in an action research framework in the public relations (PR) industry: a collective case study of 15 PR consultants and a quasi-experiment employing 52 PR consultants from diverse PR sites. In the exploratory phase of the studies an empirically based analysis was undertaken of the way participants constructed the problem. In the intervention phase, the treatment was developed to address the causal factors which had been identified. Mixed data sets provide evidence that: (1) SWA was largely caused by power imbalances in the structure of social relations in the site and to a lesser extent by motivational, environmental and writing process factors; and (2) the problem may be reduced by an assertive intervention delivered in the context of an action-research based professional writing training program. By being situated in an organizational site defined by professional discourse, this research makes a theoretical and empirical contribution to the field of professional discourse analysis. By identifying practices which constrain the production of professional texts and practices which offer affordances to it, its findings may also provide guidance for practitioners of professional discourse in addressing their writing goals. From a research perspective, it provides an example of empirically grounded interdisciplinary writing research informed by a critical pragmatic approach that may be relevant to professional, and pedagogical concerns.


Table of Contents

Volume 1: Section 1. Project overview and exploration of the constructs -- Section 2. Methodology -- Section 3. Implementation, results and analysis -- Section 4. Conclusion and implications -- Volume 2: Appendices.


Includes bibliographical references This thesis is presented for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy August 2012

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Linguistics

Department, Centre or School

Department of Linguistics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Alan Jones

Additional Supervisor 1

Chris Candlin


Copyright Britt Larsson 2013. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (2 volumes) colour charts

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